Although National Avenue has had labyrinth events in the past, this Sunday will mark the first event using our very own labyrinth (one that we have not had to borrow). I have been drawn to the idea of using labyrinths as a spiritual tool for a couple of years and a few months ago I overheard Pastor Laura talking to someone about her interest in having a labyrinth here at NACC. And now, IT IS SO FOR US!
Labyrinths are a subset of the mandala and are ancient spiritual tools. They have been found in some form on every continent in the world and date back as far as 2000 BCE. Although we do not have confirmation of how they were actually used, we do know that they were in considerable use by the Franco-Christian community in the late 12th century. Some say they were used to simulate the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a Christian experience that became too dangerous during the Crusades. When used as a symbolic “journey”, the walk into the center of these labyrinths found in cathedrals became a ritual ending of the journey to the Holy Land.
It is quite interesting to me that now, in the 21st century, we are seeing an incredible resurgence as labyrinths are springing up all over the world! If you want to see for yourself, check out the World Wide Labyrinth Locator website, where you can type in a city and up will come information regarding all the labyrinths in that location. I was in Santa Fe last weekend and decided to check out the website and found 34 labyrinths in the Santa Fe area alone! The website lists 3 here in Springfield and there are at least 2 others I know of, including ours.
Labyrinths can be used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes, all relating to “mindfulness” and meditation. They are seen as tools to awaken our intuition regarding spiritual health, physical health and emotional well-being. Those walking the path may feel an opening in the ability to listen for God as they find a calmness in the quieted mind. In contemporary Western society, the quieted mind can be something we don’t experience often enough, and I believe it is something that our bodies inherently crave and even require for spiritual wholeness.
Please join us on Sunday between 5:00 and 6:30 pm for the All Saints/Remembrance service and walk the labyrinth with a mindful intention to honor someone special in your life that is no longer here. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we can take this time to create a newfound sense of gratitude for these souls who have enriched our lives. The labyrinth journey can be a profound way to purposefully experience that gratitude.
And look for many more labyrinth events at National Avenue in the future!